Otherizing

It’s incredibly easy to “otherize” someone.

They’re just another:

• refugee
• thug
• liberal
• Republican
• straight white man
• bossy woman

But if you were to go up to any individual who ticks the boxes for any of these categories…after one conversation, you’d discover a complex world of struggle, stress, and livelihood.

Take me for example.

I’m a straight white man—as are many of my closest friends.

Does that encapsulate me? Does that define who my friends and I are as human beings?

I certainly recognize and acknowledge the privileges I have, but no one who knows me would say I’m just another straight white man.

Yet when we don’t know a person or a group of people intimately—regardless of their size, shape, or color—it’s all too easy to place them in a box.

I used to think that super left-wing people were overemotional and irrational.

Only when I actually put in the time to have good-faith debates and discussions with the more liberal-minded people I knew…did I begin to see my error in thinking.

When I wouldn’t get yelled at for stating my opinion…when I would hear reasonable and well-constructed arguments…I would think, Wait, but they’re liberal. Aren’t they supposed to be crazy emotional and triggered right now?

I was otherizing them.

Conclusion

No matter how much you think otherwise, you can’t actually know a person until you get to know them.

You don’t have to love them or agree with them, but you can recognize that they are in fact a human being—made of the same set of organs, bones, and worries that you’re made of.